Lord, to whom can we go?
"I am wheelchair bound and my daughter left for two weeks. Every ride to get things I need costs $5.00. All I want is soap, shampoo and baby powder. I just want to be clean." "I lost my job and my new one doesn't start for two weeks. I know I smell bad. I am embarrassed. All I need is laundry detergent. Even if I am dirty, my son needs clean clothes. " MAKE ME CLEAN.
"My 14 year old is out of control and keeps attacking me. The police say there is nothing they can do. They told him to leave, but he can come back and he is my son. Can't someone help?" "I am so depressed." LORD, TO WHOM CAN WE GO?
"I need to go the hospital and no one can take me." HEAL ME.
"All I have to eat is a bag of Goldfish." FEED ME.
"I came here because I don't know where else to go." LORD TO WHOM CAN WE GO?
Here at the Pulpit in the Sky in the city, there are so many neighbors in our midst who hunger for the most basic needs. There are many ways in which we try to feed, clothe and minister. In many of my encounters, before we are done, I offer to pray with the person. I have never been turned down. I offer to hold their hands as we pray- I am never turned down. Often as we are praying, I am aware that the person whose hands I am holding begins to cry deep tears for what is, for what is not, and the hands relax. For even just the length of that prayer the burdens are a little lighter. And in some small way, I hope that the person who thought maybe the God-place could help, got a glimpse of God with them.
Later, as I watch them walk back out into the fray, I wonder about the deeper yearning below the surface. For the poor, everyday things are enormous. But beyond the food, the soap, the guidance, the transportation is a much deeper need that is expressed in "Lord, to whom can we go?" The enormous things are easier when one feels they do not walk alone, when one can sense God's presence in their journey. And it is good that we are here.
But how do we more intentionally approach the deeper need that only the prayer, and the listening and the presence of the Lord we seek can offer? Especially here in the city where many are wayfarers- because here is the courthouse, the social service network, the convention center. We are the landing place for many, whether it is for a day or for "however long." For all on these journeys, both physical and spiritual, where does the welcome start, and what should it look like? How do we regularly provide a sanctuary for all who cry out "Lord, to whom can we go?" who desperately hope that there is an answer? Where the answer is about eternal life?